As a pioneer in both the music and medical fields, CarbonWorks’ Neal Barnard has long since inspired many of those he has met over the years, encouraging them to explore this place we call home and issues within it more deeply. The bands’ self-titled debut album released in December, contains elements of blues, rock and jazz – and, today, Thisisthelatest are delighted to premiere the video for the new single “By The Window” which you can check out at the bottom of this feature. To coincide with the premiere, Barnard took time out of his increasingly busy schedule to chat favourite artists, his thoughts on animal testing and his lasting message to the world.

TITL: What would you say sets your band CarbonWorks apart from your various musical counterparts?

Neal Barnard: We seem to have gone off in our own direction, with music that changes from song to song like a movie soundtrack, so it’s hard to compare us to other groups. But the elements people pick up on are the beautiful vocals, foreign languages, and odd time signatures. A couple of people have said that our song “Samurai” reminds them of punk or New Wave bands – a bit of Blondie or Talking Heads – and one or two have compared us to The Silk Road by Yoyo Ma with all the international flavors.

TITL: Has music always been your chosen career path and if not, which other routes/professions did you consider?

NB: My parents had the idea that a civilized person ought to play at least two instruments. So I was basically chained to the piano and cello starting at age six. And I would love to do music 24/7. However, there are social causes – unhealthful diets and cruelty to animals, in particular – that led me to go to medical school and to found the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine. So that’s been squeezing my musical career a bit, forcing me to write books about asparagus instead of banging on my Les Paul.

TITL: Which artists and bands most influenced you growing up and how, if at all, do they impact the music you make?

NB: When I was little, the Beatles and “the British Invasion” turned my world from black and white to color. Then Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughn made me love the guitar. The Incredible String Band and others introduced the idea of out-of-the-box, who-cares-what-anybody-thinks song-writing. And then I bought a French record in a bargain bin, and that led me down the rabbit hole of French music, which I adore. And because I lived I a Vietnamese neighborhood in medical school, I fell in love with traditional Vietnamese music. So now all those elements go into the mental blender.

TITL: How did you come up with the concept for the video to your new single “By The Window” and is the Vietnam War, footage of which features within it, something particular close to you/members of your family?

“By the Window” is a traditional Vietnamese song about a woman who is wondering where her man has gone. The words say, in essence, half of my blanket and half of my bed are waiting for you to come back. The original is very pretty and sad. So I translated it into a kick-ass rocker. That’s not such a leap as it may sound, because Vietnamese music uses a pentatonic scale—the same as is used in blues and rock. Phi Khanh and Chau Nguyen were so perfect in this song, and our singer Martha and the group really rocked it, too.

About the war theme, every night in my childhood the news recounted the latest casualties in Vietnam. Close to 60,000 U.S. soldiers were killed and more than ten times that many Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.  When I was 18, I was about to be sent to the army, but fate intervened and sent me in a different direction. Phi Khanh and Chau Nguyen, who play on this song, both had to flee Vietnam. And the video tells of the war and of those forced to leave.

But Vietnam is also a beautiful place, with dense green forests and obvious beauty in its music, food, and clothing that stand in contrast to the cruelty and tragedies that we may remember.

My previous album, Verdun, included quite a lot of Vietnamese influences, and it was reassuring when, in 2009, one of our songs, called “Dream of the Black Horse” was selected for a performance on the National Mall in Washington for the conclusion of the Library of Congress’ observances that were a memorial to the suffering of the Vietnamese refugees at the end of the war.

TITL: Your self-titled debut album came out in December. For those who have yet to hear it, how would you sum it up and do you have a favourite track?

NB: In some ways, the CarbonWorks album is a natural extension of my prior albums, Verdun and Pop Maru, which were filled with foreign elements and the occasional bit of experimentation, too. But Naif – our wonderful Italian singer – really summed it up when she said it’s a voyage. The music drifts from blues, into classical and jazz and rock, with Italian and Vietnamese elements and lots of other things that all fit together – at least I hope they do.

I can’t say I have a favourite track. The song most people seem to really grab hold of is “Louder than Words,” which is really Martha and Allegra, our violinist, playing so beautifully together. Although I was not trying to write a hit song, it has been on the U.S. Top 40 for several weeks now -#14 on the Adult Contemporary chart this week. And “Samurai” is really fun. The vocal on “Song for an Angel” is out of this world, and the same for “God Save the King.” And if you are on some highway late at night, I am hoping that the 15-minute “End of the World” Suite will carry you along.

TITL: Who or what most inspires you lyrically and with that in mind, which song would you say is the greatest ever written and why?

NB: Lyrics need to be simple and emotional – not logical – and need to bring visual images to mind. So, for example, Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” conveys simple images of – as the lyrics say – a bird on a wire or a drunk in a midnight choir. You can picture these assertive but pathetic images of something that passes for freedom.

TITL: Do you have any upcoming performance plans you can tell me about?

NB: I wish. Our musicians are scattered so widely, I think the only place we’ll ever be together is on celluloid, or whatever the digital equivalent is.

TITL: If you could play any venue in the world with three bands or artists who would they be, why and where would you play?

NB: Is there where I’m supposed to say I want to play with Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and the Pope? Wow, that’s a great question. If I could play any venue, it would be the U.S. House of Representatives, just so all the politicians and lobbyists would put down their credit cards for a moment and listen to something sensible. And once we had that down, I wouldn’t mind a short gig in the middle of the Prime Minister’s Question Time.

TITL: To what extent, if at all, have you found social media a positive/negative tool when it comes to getting the word about your music out there to the masses?

NB: I love it. It allows people to reach across the globe instantly. Often, they give us a lot more than they should. But I love the fact that they can.

TITL: Away from music, you’re regarded as a trailblazer and pioneer in the medical field, notably through removing animal testing from medical schools and medical experimentation in general. How do your views on issues such as animal testing and veganism influence/impact the creative side of your life?

NB: All these things interfere with the creative side of life – which is to say that, because people eat so badly – Americans eat more than a million animals every hour—we are left with a huge disease burden that has to be addressed, plus massive cruelty to animals in laboratories aiming to find cures for the illnesses that are, to a great extent, caused by our carnivorous habits. So with all that work to do, creative pursuits have to wait.

TITL: How did/have your appearances on Dr. Oz impacted your career and your ability to get your name out to a wider audience?

NB: Dr. Oz is a good friend. A few years back, he devoted an entire show to vegan diets and has had me on the program a dozen times or more. Since he’s the biggest show on American daytime TV, it does mean that you get stopped in airports quite often by people wanting advice.

TITL: What else does this year have in store for you? Are there any as-yet-unannounced projects in the pipeline?

NB: Yes, I’m in the studio now recording some new music. I really love it so far, but it takes time to see what really endures. One of the most important things in any creative process is to release only your very best work, which means letting a lot of good, but not great, things go.

On the non-music side, I have a new book, called The Cheese Trap, which lays out the biochemical reasons why we get hooked on cheddar and mozzarella and the surprising benefits of breaking that love affair. And we are now working on cleaning up the food in hospitals and schools – out with the bacon and sausage, in with the vegetables and fruits. And we have some really exciting research initiatives that help refocus research on human biology.

TITL: Finally then, looking to the long-distant future, what would you like your legacy, both in and outside of music, to be? What one message would you like to leave the world as a lasting reminder of the impact you made and beliefs you had?

NB: I do think we’ve accomplished a lot, from ending the use of animals in North American medical schools, working with a coalition to stop chimpanzee experiments, persuading the US Government to dump the “meat group” from its dietary policies, dramatically changing the nutritional treatment of diabetes, and shining a new spotlight on means of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, among others, but there is a lot more to do, needless to say.

Musically, I hope that the person who feels he or she is trudging through a musical wasteland will have found something new and interesting in our music. And I also hope that it will lead them to know more about our musicians. Naif Hérin and Chris Thomas King, for example, have very prominent careers – Naif in Italy and Chris in movies – like the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou? – and I hope listeners will dig into their work, too.

On a bigger scale, my ultimate hope is that people can learn to behave themselves, which is to say leaving animals off their plates and work to ensure health and dignity for our fellow humans. If our work has advanced those causes, then it has been worthwhile. But there is no shortage of challenges remaining in front of us! And we have music with us to motivate us, console us, and speak for us when words are hard to find.

Watch the video for “By The Window” below and for more information on CarbonWorks, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.  Their self-titled album can be purchased here.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for posting this video and interview! Human conflicts never seem to cease, but I’m glad that we are able to look at them through a compassionate artistic lens. Thank you!!

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Thursday 8th March marks a very special day – International Women’s Day. Though gender equality should be celebrated every day, it’s a chance for us to really shine a light on the female figures in our lives and those in our wider society that dedicate their lives to the cause. What better way to celebrate the event than by belting out a ton of songs by our favourite female artists? This will give you a level up in sassiness and add an extra ‘oomph’ to your moves! Whether you’re celebrating the event at one of our venues or from home – take this playlist with you!


















As an independent record label that champions itself on “investing in the music and the talented artists that create it”, Royalti Virtue can be considered a label with a difference. Determined to work as one collective unit, while all the while producing music of several different genres, RV allow and encourage their acts to collaborate, innovate and be ambitious in their musical goals. Here, TITL meets some of the labels’ hottest artists and grills them on their artistic inspirations, plans for the future and how social media is helping boost their audience.

TITL: How would you each describe yourselves in three words?

Da’Rell Miller: Humble, creative and caring.

Darnell Overstreet: Intuitive, passionate, unstoppable.

Dre. D: Entrepreneur, teacher, role model.

Rob Peaples: Incredible, creative, motivated.

Jay Rock: Talent, leader, writer.

TITL: What would each of you say is your unique selling point in terms of the music you make and how you’re making your mark on the industry?

Da’Rell: We are not just a label but a real family that push each other to live our purpose in life. We come together to make not only creative music from our own perspective but to also create other lanes for artists or people like us who needs a team by their side.

Darnell: I haven’t made or sold anything yet. I’m plotting but a move won’t be made for me till January.

WalkerDown: What makes us unique is that even though it’s young artists making the music, we stand out by sounding like us.

Dre: I give the people something to remember and think about by being passionate and creative.

TITL: Which band or artist would you each say you sound most similar to and is such sound intentional or just part of the creative process?

Da’Rell: I don’t know about artists I sound like but heard from my dad that I sound like Eazy – E or Too Short when I rap; I don’t hear it but I respect both artists. I really don’t try to sound like any artist at all but I do get inspired to be inspirational like those artists or like 2pac, Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Bone Thus N Harmony, Hopsin, Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and Andre 3000.

Darnell: I don’t think I sound like anyone. I try to shy away from that and try to be original.

Rob: Part of the creative process.

Jay Rock & Dre: Part of the process.

TITL: You’ve all worked together on the track “Billboard.” How did the collaboration come about?

Da’Rell: Well me, Dre D and my cousin Telly Boi Hogg was in the studio working on music and I always wanted to put Dre D on a song since we’ve never had before in two or three years of knowing each other. Plus I wanted to put his group WalkerDown on a song but the first pitch Dre D didn’t like so Dre D and my cousin Telly Boi Hogg worked on a beat Billboard beat together. I took it home and sent the chorus idea to him. He liked it, so I asked Darnell who I met from one of my business partners Ja`ni Griot to be on the song. We just put our verses on it and Dre D had an Idea to have all of us say the chorus which was perfect.

Darnell: I was asked for the feature. He played the song, so I gave him a verse.

WalkerDown: Well Da’Rell heard our first single “Wat It Is” and he said we would be a perfect fit for the song since we are an upcoming young group.

Dre. D: At first, I was like “I can help produce the track…” Then when I heard everyone snapping on it I was like ‘aw yeah put me in the game coach!’

TITL: What, in your minds, makes a great song and, which song would you say is the greatest ever written and why?

Da’Rell: I love content and what the artist is saying in each verse or the theme of the song. I can’t honestly say there is a greatest song ever written because there are so many artists creating amazing songs that touch me at different times. My favorite artist that I personally can’t listening to non-stop is Michael Jackson. There is also a new artist I like too, a Christian rapper artist named Seckond Chaynce. I would love to collaborate with him one day. He speaks about his faith and how we should stop doing wrong in the world. He can sing, R ‘n’ B, rap, gospel, rock and country. I’ve never heard an African American do all of them before.

Darnell: “Real” by Kendrick Lamar.

WalkerDown: I would say once we know the concept of the song we’re gonna kill it. The best song to us is “WalkerDown” and that is because we are holding the name Walker Down for our family.

Dre: I like to tell stories to my audience because everyone I can say loves a great story with a dope instrumental behind it. The best song I’ve ever written was and is “Reachin” because I am dedicating the song to my city and my family.

TITL: In this technological day and age where everyone seems to know everybody else’s business, how do you feel about social media and how big of a part has it played in so far getting your name and music out there to an audience? Do you think it’s a necessary tool for artists today or is it still possible for you and them to achieve success without it?

Da’Rell: I love and hate social media. What I mean is I love the fact that we can see or read about other people’s success stories or know about their journey to success or what amazing things are going on in their lives but the bad side is that people can talk about so much negative stuff on social media which can suck because people a lot of times are more negative than positive or want to just pick on somebody else for no reason. Social media plays a big part in getting an audience now since pretty much everybody is on some type of social media site.

If it wasn’t for social media we wouldn’t have met our manager Mike Lemaic who lives in the UK and who is teaching us about the business in the industry and developing the label. Social media has perks and weakness which we have to deal with. Fans love to know about our personal lives but we shouldn’t spill every emotion to the public because sometimes people can and will use certain things against us for their own enjoyment. People need to and should watch what they put online.

Darnell: It’s a faster way of getting out there fast. It’s a better way to me that is.

WalkerDown: It’s very helpful because, with us being young, we don’t have to go to the streets; the streets comes to us. It’s also a necessary tool because it’s an easy way for artists to collaborate.

Dre: It’s helped me spread my message to the world. I think it’s necessary to have social media because the fans can hear new music every-day from a variety of artists.

TITL: What are your upcoming performance plans?

Da’Rell: We haven’t decided yet but once we gain the right fan base we can decide with our manager which places might work best. We really want to perform at Comic Con, Wizard Con and nerdy like places since all of us at and on the label watch anime and superhero shows.

Darnell: I can’t give that out right now.

WalkerDown: Right now we are in the process of getting a booking manager, so no we don’t have any at the moment.

Dre: Once I get enough music to keep the crowds moving, that’s when I will be setting up some dates.

TITL: There’s also an EP, due for release this month. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it?

Da’Rell: All I can say without giving spoilers is that the artists on the label did their things on this label project. We all have our own sound and unique creative musical art but the fact we can work together on a project like this tells we can do more in the future. We have five songs for the world to listen to as an introductory project for the label as each artist on the label is also working on separate music.

We’re giving the world that Royalti Virtue good vibe feel music with some young unique talents in different genres. We have special guests like Kim Cameron, Dre D, WalkerDown, Darnel Overstreet and Elevated Music who have helped put our project together with special features.

WalkerDown: First of all, it’s dope! It’s giving you an inside on what WalkerDown came from and what we stand for.

Dre: It’s crazy that you mention that because my latest EP “Nuthin Else Matters” was released in March too, but with this EP I’m touching the people inner self-consciously.

TITL: Finally then, individually, both personally and professionally, what are your ambitions for 2018? What goals do you hope to achieve and where do you see the music industry going in the coming year?

Da’Rell: My personal and professional ambitions for 2018 is to spark the world and young or older artists to create a team and make their dreams come true. The label wants to tour and collaborate with other artists making unique music. My goal is for the label to be heard internationally and to hopefully start touring by the summer time or at least do some shows with the whole roster. Another goal is to hopefully be on radio stations and gain a lot of fans from around the world with and for each of the Royalti Virtue artists.

I see the music industry in 2018 growing in independent artists rather than mainstream record label artists. I feel since streaming sites are changing for artists in the future that artists will start having less music on streaming sites and more physical copies like back in the day. Since streaming isn’t paying artists much, I feel artists will start having more of their songs or projects in several other places; in stores or at their tours, in order for fans to purchase them, especially if streaming sites don’t up their royalty rates.

Darnell: By the end of this year, I plan to move from my home state. I will also be putting the time into my music with proper marketing and promos. I can be in a great place by the end of next year. The bars are there and I finally found my voice. Maybe a name as well. But as a collective – my team and I will strive to reach the top.

Rob: My ambition is to strive for greatness in 2018. I hope to make a name for WalkerDown in the industry.

Jay Rock: My ambition is to have the name WalkerDown in everyone conversation. I hope that you’ll see us LIVE and I can see the industry welcoming new young artists like us WalkerDown!

Dre: To give the fans more visual and positive music. I hope that someone will understand my drive for the music industry; and the industry will open up for Indiana artists!

Check out “Billboard” below and to find out more about Royalti Virtue, visit the website or like the page on Facebook.